Our 2017 Academic Excellence Award winner happens to be a veteran. Wisconsin native Zachary Rhyner is working toward an Associate in Arts degree with the goal of becoming a physician’s assistant.
Zachary served in the military for 11 years before medically retiring from a gunshot wound. “The nature of my wound was extensive,” he said. “I was left with a surgically repaired femur and a severed sciatic nerve, causing complete paralysis below my right knee.”
Though he was determined to return to full active duty, Zachary’s rehabilitation and recovery didn’t go according to his wishes and he was forced to medically retire.
“During my recovery process, I was aided by incredible specialists covering a wide range of medical disciplines,” Zachary explained. “The level of professionalism exhibited by those wanting to serve others inspired me to pursue an education in order to earn a professional degree in medicine.
“Many at the college were helpful assisting me transition from serving in the military to becoming a student. I began slowly, taking distance learning classes to re-engage. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed learning, so I committed myself full-time.”
The instructors at Sandhills were instrumental in Zachary’s first steps at becoming a successful student. “I think I was most surprised with my American Literature class. I dreaded taking it, but was amazed at how much I enjoyed the perspective offered by Dr. Martinez.”